Education and Communication

 

Nevada’s Outdoor School’s Outdoor Ethics Program

Nevada Outdoor School (NOS) inspires exploration of the natural world, responsible stewardship of our habitat and dedication to community.

NOS has been a leader in the field of outdoor ethics education and outreach for over a decade, and as of 2020 has managed 19 Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Projects totaling over $814,231. As the premier provider of outdoor ethics education in rural Nevada, NOS inspires people to develop and strengthen their connection to and love for the outdoors and helps Nevadans around the state “share the care” for our amazing natural world with others.

NOS’s 2018 RTP “Share the Care” program used their multi- faceted education and communication approach to reach people of all ages and backgrounds around the state with the message of responsible recreation. Through this program, NOS used a variety of established and innovative communication tools to provide simple, effective touch-point outreach and education all the way up to intensive backcountry training programs and week-long youth camps to teach people about responsible recreation including trail related safety and enjoyment. As part of their “Share the Care” program, NOS used a five tier approach to promote outdoor ethics in Nevada through Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics (LNT), Tread Lightly! (TL!) and ATV/OHV safety outreach and education: Front Country (classroom lessons, field trips and school activities), Back Country (community hikes, summer and eco-camps), Road Shows (a mobile education and outreach booth which travels around the state reaching thousands of Nevadans with the message of responsible recreation), Trainings (LNT and TL! Trainer and Awareness Courses; Hunter and Firearm Safety, ATV/OHV safety trainings) and an Outdoor Ethics Club (an outdoor recreation and stewardship club for middle and high school students in Winnemucca). All of these stellar education and communication approaches inspire people to get outside, recreate responsibly on our trail systems and become stewards of the land.

NOS’s “Share the Care” program is for all trail users around the state because as they say, “Outdoor Ethics is for everyone!” NOS teaches about safe and responsible trail use for both motorized and non-motorized recreation. One important part of NOS’s Outdoor Ethics program is their ATV/OHV safety education and outreach for youth and adults which includes the Tread Lightly! principles. NOS provides hands-on trainer courses as well as educational resources and information to people about ATV/OHV safety. Additionally, they work with Sheriff’s Offices around the state to host OHV registration events providing needed education and resources for the OHV community. In 2018, NOS received a Special Recognition Award at the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) Convention.

Other accomplishments from NOS’s “Share the Care” project include traveling to 18 events around the state with their Road Show booth, talking to over 4,800 people about safe and responsible recreation. They hosted 7 Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics trainer courses in places like Valley of Fire State Park and the Black Rock Desert National Conservation Area, producing 215 new Leave No Trace trainers for Nevada! Additionally, they taught 10 outdoor ethics classroom lessons to over 200 fourth grade students and ran a wide variety of summer camp programs for over 1,000 youth in pre-K through 8th grades in rural northern Nevada. These youth programs help increase environmental awareness in the next generation of trail users.

Nevada Outdoor School’s “Share the Care” program has many benefits for the community, economy, and environment. Outdoor Ethics education and outreach helps create healthy, safe and happy communities. NOS programs encourage people to get outside and enjoy their public lands responsibly, promoting healthy lifestyles and safe recreational opportunities for youth and adults. With a big focus on youth programming, NOS takes the younger population of Nevada to explore public lands in ways they may otherwise not have available to them through field trips, summer camps and other recreational and stewardship opportunities. While enjoying the outdoors, children directly see the value of safe and responsible outdoor recreation. These outdoor ethics programs directly impact the value the next generation of land/trail users place on keeping recreation areas safe, open and pristine. Outdoor recreation is an important part of our culture in Nevada and NOS has been able to establish much of their community support from the fact that parents want their children to enjoy the same opportunities for outdoor pursuits that they have had. NOS’s Outdoor Ethics program also helps benefit the economic vitality of communities they serve. Irresponsible recreation can have major negative consequences to the economy such as the need for more law enforcement, more facility and trail maintenance, fire-fighting, campground restoration and more. Many times lack of funding for such needs results in public lands and recreation facilities being closed. Through outdoor ethics outreach and education, NOS spreads the message of responsible recreation and teaches people about the consequences of positive and negative interactions with the natural world. With more of our community being educated about outdoor ethics and responsibly recreating on our public lands, it decreases the need for law enforcement, facility maintenance, restoration work, etc. therefore, improving the economic vitality of our communities throughout Nevada. Similarly, Outdoor Ethics education and outreach teaches people how to positively interact with the natural world, improving the health and safety of recreation areas and the environment in general.

NOS has been highly effective in partnering with a variety of community groups and agencies to support the outdoor ethics message. This can be attributed to the talented and passionate staff delivering NOS programs and the broad appeal of what they teach including the most important part of their mission, to get outside responsibly! NOS has maintained a financial assistance agreement with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – Winnemucca District since 2003 to provide educational and interpretive programs, including outdoor ethics throughout the district. NOS has also signed a Challenge Cost Share Agreement with the BLM NV State Office to provide outdoor ethics programming and utilize BLM managed lands for ATV safety courses throughout the state. In 2016, NOS started receiving funding from the Nevada Commission on Off-Highway Vehicles to support their Front Country, Backcountry, Road Show and ATV Safety programs. Other programming partners include the Northern Nevada ATV Association, Friends of Black Rock- High Rock, Friends of Nevada Wilderness, Humboldt, Lander, Pershing and Elko County School District, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and the University of Nevada Reno Cooperative Extension. Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, Tread Lightly!, the ATV Safety Institute and Oregon ATV Safety all provide curriculum and educational resource support.

For Nevada Outdoor School’s 2018 “Share the Care” RTP project totaling $69,055, $4,744 of matching funds came from AmeriCorps Nevada, $11,643 from the Nevada OHV Commission, and $12,211 from the Bureau of Land 5 Management.

More information about Nevada Outdoor School and their Outdoor Ethics education and outreach programs can be found on their website: www.nevadaoutdoorschool.org


More winners of this award

2019: Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center (GNFAC) – Montana

2018: Spearhead Trails - Virginia

2017: Woodruff Greenway Trail - South Carolina

2016: Great Trails: Providing Quality OHV Trails and Experiences Guidebook (Nationwide)

2015: Blue Tree Trail System - Nevada

2014: Missouri State Parks Trail Book

2013: School Messaging Program - Minnesota

2012: Intertwine Alliance Bi-State Regional Trails Website - Oregon and Washingston

2011: Shadow Mountain Trail System - Wyoming

2010: Coalition of Recreational Trail Users Educational Trailer - Minnesota

2009: Giant's Stairs Trail Project - Maine

2008: Recreation Maps and Educational Materials - Wyoming

2007: Trail Planning, Design & Development Guidelines Book - Minnesota

2006: Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park - Virginia

2005: North Slope Trailer Project - Wyoming

2004: Western Wyoming Avalanche Education - Wyoming

2004: Sensible, Courteous Off Road Enthusiasts (SCORE) - Pennsylvania

2003: Green Ridge State Forest & Rocky Gap State Park Trail - Maryland